Philadelphia Medicine Winter 2017-18x - 9
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the school, instead of just gritting my teeth and dealing with it for
so long. I feel there is still a fear/stigma, especially with residency.
"I was definitely afraid initially about saying anything because
I didn't want to be looked down upon or looked over for a residency spot for 'making problems' especially in the competitive,
male-dominated specialty I'm in."
She said speaking up is still a problem, especially when it's a
"he said, she said" situation.
A Culture of Inbred Sexism
Another local medical student said she has found the medical
profession to be a culture of inbred sexism. She pointed out that
a lot of mnemonics that have been used for years to help students
memorize parts of the anatomy, often have something to do with
women's body parts. "For example, to remember the cranial
nerves, they use 'oh, oh, oh, to touch and feel a girl's vagina.'"
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She said she's been harassed at every job she's ever had.
She's found medical school to have less harassment, but more
discrimination, especially toward minority female students. She
has seen many instances where such women are simply ignored
when they give a diagnosis, for example.
She said a female professor is seen as stern because she corrects
students when they give a wrong answer, or when they treat the
cadavers with disrespect, while a male professor who is even
sterner than her is treated with respect.
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"I hope that as more women enter medical school and take
leadership positions at hospitals, that some of the sexual harassment will go away, or be punished."
to do if I'm on clinical rotation, and someone makes one of these
really horrible sexist remarks to me? The guys on the rotation - the
other students - don't say anything. Shouldn't they say something?'"
One student said it's common in medical school to be subject
to inappropriate conversations about women. A very obvious
incident happened during her first year of medical school during
ER shadowing. "Another medical student and I were following
a physician, and he referred to us as his 'little ducklings,' and as
'the pretty ladies,' to boy pediatric patients. He would not have
acted that way if we had been men. It calls into question his
judgment of our intelligence, capabilities, etc."
Male Students Afraid to Speak Up
Dr. Sherry Blumenthal, chair of the Women Physicians' Caucus
of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, and the main speaker at
the PCMS seminar, said she was surprised by the reaction she
recently received when she brought up sexual harassment to a
group of medical students at a talk at Jefferson University.
Dr. Blumenthal said, "Some of the guys happened to be in the
audience. And I asked them what their response was, and they
said, number one they heard them (the sexist remarks). They were
sensitive to them, but they were afraid. They were afraid of reprisals.
They were afraid, because they did not have the power to speak up,
because it could affect their grades."
Gail Benner, Jefferson University media relations manager,
encouraged the medical students who talked to Dr. Blumenthal to
pass on their concerns to school officials. She said they can do it
anonymously. Benner said the medical school has a comprehensive
policy to address sexual harassment complaints. "The policy and
Jefferson's Code of Conduct make clear that retaliation for reporting
or opposing harassment or discrimination will not be tolerated."
Benner added that there are many resources a student can use.
"Students who wish to confidentially report can call the Student
Personal Counseling Center at 215-503-2817." *
A female medical student commented that she was a victim of
crude sexist comments. She told Blumenthal, "what am I supposed
Winter 2018 : Philadelphia Medicine